Sally Phillips & Lily Bevan: Talking To Strangers

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16/08/16

Assembly, George Square, Edinburgh

Sally Phillips and Lily Bevan are here for one week only and their impeccably delineated character sketch show is sold out tonight, so it might be a tough one to get tickets for.

Before the show starts, we’re informed that Phillips has broken her foot (by jumping on – or off – a table…?) but that she’ll be performing anyway, just “I might be a bit still!” Testament to her professionalism is the fact that it doesn’t impede the show in any way. Yeah, she’s got a bandage on her foot and she limps uncomfortably on and off stage during each scene change, but, once in position and in character, it makes no difference.

This is a sort-of-sketch-show, a series of monologues, where the two actors alternate different roles. And it’s really rather good.

Standouts include a miserable research scientist who’s spent forty years studying ‘numerosity in lions’ (only to be overwhelmed by the sudden realisation of the pointlessness of her life’s work), a terrified tour guide pressured into performing the role of Catherine of Aragon (whose brave attempts to render a Spanish accent provide the biggest laughs of the night), and an extended – and slightly bonkers – routine about Bette Midler and her phone calls to a cancer support group.

These women are seasoned comedians and their performances are precise and polished. If it’s a little safe, then that’s okay – not everything has to be edgy and provocative. I would have liked to have seen them perform at least one duologue, but overall this was a marvellous show.

4.5 stars

Susan Singfield

 

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